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Early Childhood Bios

 

Abby Berkowitz
Early Childhood Director
Abby Berkowitz has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2009. She has worked as a lower school teacher in multiple grades during her tenure at school. Abby also directs all of the lower school drama productions. Prior to her time at Mandel JDS, Abby was a youth director and choreographer for local youth theaters in the Cleveland area. She was also the youth services supervisor at the Mandel Jewish Community Center. She graduated from Ursuline College with her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a Fourth and Fifth Grade Endorsement and a Reading Endorsement. When not at school, Abby enjoys spending time with her family, being creative, and cooking in her kitchen.

 

Hannah Balogh

Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher
Hannah Balogh has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2016. She has worked as an early childhood educator in Gan Garin 2’s and Gan Alonim Pre-K. Hannah also coaches the middle school soccer team. Hannah is a licensed Early Childhood Educator in the state of Ohio. She attended John Carroll University for her Bachelor’s degree and will continue her education to obtain a K-12 Reading Endorsement.  As a teacher in Jewish early childhood education, Hannah continues to be committed to supporting each child's approach towards learning in all areas of development. A professional goal of Hannah’s is to create a safe and nurturing environment for her students and their families. It is important for her to make each child feel valued and each parent’s voice heard. When not at school, Hannah enjoys cooking Pinterest recipes, spending time with her family in Youngstown, going on walks with her dog Bella, and refinishing furniture.

 

 

Joni Berry

Gan Shoresh 3 Year Old Teacher
Joni Berry is new to the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School.  Joni has a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education from The University of Miami.  Joni and her husband moved to Cleveland from south Florida where they lived for forty years raising their three children.  She is so excited to be joining a great staff and to share her ideas with the Gan Shoresh team. In her free time, Joni enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren, playing golf and traveling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carol Collins

Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher
Carol Collins teaches Pre-K at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. Previously, she was an early childhood teacher at the Solon Jewish Preschool. Prior to that, Carol worked for many years in the Solon schools and taught second grade at Park Synagogue.  Carol also teaches math at The Kumon Center in Solon. Carol is a graduate of The Ohio State University, with a BS in Elementary Education and has taken graduate classes at Cleveland State University. Carol enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as reading and working out.

 

 

 

Robin Freireich

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher / Aftercare Specialist
Robin Freireich has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for the past six years.  She has taught Gan Shoresh and Gan Alonim. She has been the Aftercare Specialist for the last three years. She attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison there she earned a BS in Special Education. Robin taught Middle School and High School in the Cleveland Heights school system for twelve years. Her focus area was teaching kids with learning disabilities. More recently, she taught in the Jewish Community Center’s Early Childhood Program for over six years. Robin enjoys gardening, reading, traveling, live theater, and exercising. Her favorite activity is spending time with her children and son-in-law.
 
 
Zehava Galun
Early Childhood Hebrew Immersion Specialist

Zehava Galun has worked at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for the past ten years as an Early Childhood educator.  She is currently the Hebrew Immersion language specialist enriching the growth and development of the Mandel JDS Early Childhood students on a daily basis. Prior to Mandel JDS, she worked at the Park Synagogue Preschool.  In her free time, she enjoys knitting and reading.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sarah Goldstein
Gan Garin 2 Year Old Teacher

Sarah Goldstein recently joined the Early Childhood team at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School.  Her prior teaching experience was while living in Israel, working with students in both elementary and high schools.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interior Design from The Ohio State University. Sarah has a son in Pre-K, and a daughter in Gan Shoresh, both at Mandel JDS. When not at school you can find Sarah at a yoga class, the gym, or exploring Cleveland with her husband and two children.

 
 
 
 
Brooke Horn
Gan Shoresh 3 Year Old Teacher / Intervention Specialist

Brooke Horn has taught at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for four years. She started with the Gan Alonim Pre-K class after completing her student teaching with the fourth grade students. She has taught preschool for several years and has a Master's Degree as an Intervention Specialist and Reading Specialist from Notre Dame College, as well as a Master’s Degree in School Social Work from Case Western Reserve University. This year she will be teaching in the Gan Shoresh class and will be providing Literacy Skills groups with the Kindergarten and First Graders. In her free time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

 
 
Valerie Jones
Gan Shoresh 3 Year Old Teacher

Valerie Jones has been a teacher at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2005. She taught Pre-K at Mandel JDS up until 2008, when she switched to Gan Shoresh.  Before coming to Mandel JDS, Val was a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at The Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood for several years. Before finding her calling in teaching, Val was the Communications Manager at Playhouse Square Center. Val graduated from Emory University in 1981 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology. In 2002, she completed a teaching license from Notre Dame College. In Val’s free time, she enjoys reading, walks through the park, and spending time with her three adult sons.

 
Bonnie Kraus
Gan Garin 2 Year Old Teacher and First Steps Teacher

Bonnie Kraus has been a teacher at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2014. Bonnie’s priority is meeting the individual needs of her students as they adjust to being at school for the first time, and providing a safe, nurturing environment for them to explore, create, learn and play.  She graduated from The Ohio State University, Cum Laude, in 1985 with a Bachelor’s of Science in English Education, and from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 1988 with a Juris Doctor. Bonnie worked for five years as an attorney and then "retired" to be home with her children, two of whom are Mandel JDS (then Agnon) graduates. Bonnie enjoys spending time with her family, husband, Eddy, three children, Rachel, Hannah and Jacob, and her dog Chelsey.  She also enjoys gardening and spending time at the beach.

 
Eppie Miller
Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher

Eppie Miller has taught Gan Alonim Pre-K for three years at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School. She also tutors students in reading through APlus Solutions. Previously she was the Early Childhood Music & Movement teacher at Hawken School. When in North Carolina, she taught in a first through third grade classroom in a public Montessori School.  She earned a Master’s degree in Education with Early Childhood teaching licensure (grades PK – 3) from John Carroll University and a K–12 Reading Endorsement through Ohio Dominican University. As a student at Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, she double majored in Religion and Psychology and minored in Dance. She has Handwriting without Tears, YogaKids® and Early Childhood Music & Movement Certifications. She is married to Michael Miller, a trumpet player with the Cleveland Orchestra, and has three children, Zachary (age 16), Ivy (age 13), and Nicholas (age 9). She enjoys traveling, experiencing natural areas, being creative, learning, and spending time with her family.

 
 
Justine Larson
Gan Alonim Pre-K Teacher

Justine Larson has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for 12 years.  She began her career at Mandel JDS as a student teacher working with students in second grade, preschool and pre-kindergarten.  Justine earned a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and the K-12 Reading Endorsement at Ursuline College in 2004. Justine’s commitment to the field of education is evident in both her classroom practice and in her pursuit of excellence through attending graduate level courses and professional development workshops. In her free time, Justine enjoys hiking, gardening, dance, and music.   

 
 
 
 
Jill Leyser
Gan Garin 2 Year Old Teacher

Jill Leyser has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for three years. She has been in the education field for more than 10 years. Jill received her Master’s degree in Early Childhood education and Pre-K - 3rd grade license from John Carroll University and a 4th-5th endorsement on her license.  She previously taught Preschool, Kindergarten and 1st grade in the City of Cleveland for a number of years. She currently has a daughter in second grade and a son in Gan Alonim at Mandel JDS. She is very proud to be both a staff member and parent at Mandel JDS.

 
 
 
Kelli Pastor
Gan Shoresh 3 Year Old Teacher / EC-K Physical Education Teacher

Kelli Pastor has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School for fifteen years as an Early Childhood educator. Kelli also teaches physical education  for Early Childhood and Kindergarten. Kelli graduated from Cleveland State University in 2004, with a Bachelor’s degree and teaching license in Early Childhood Education. In 2000, she completed an Associate’s Degree from Lakeland College in Art. Kelli continues to take graduate level courses towards her Master’s degree. In 2017 she wrote an ALICE safety plan for the Mandel Early Childhood department. In 2017, she was awarded the Albert B. Ratner and Jack & Esther Goldberg Israel Fellowship Educator Award. In 2018, she started as an appraiser/judge for Destination Imagination on behalf of West Geauga Schools. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, yoga, being with her dog Lukas, and spending time with friends and family.

 
 
Sue Pearlman
Gan Garin 2 Year Old Teacher

Sue Pearlman has been teaching in the Early Childhood Department at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2000.  She received her Associate of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education at The University of Cincinnati and her Bachelor of Arts Degree at Cleveland State University.  Previously she was a platelet donor recruiter at The Cleveland Clinic. She enjoys spinning, boxing, weight training, walking and spending time with family and friends.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Julie Pilloff
Gan Shoresh 3 Year Old Teacher

Julie Pilloff has been teaching in the Early Childhood Department at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2016. Julie received her Bachelor’s degree in special education from The Ohio State University.   She also has a Master's degree in special education, which she received from Cleveland State University. She has taught in the Shaker Heights City School system and has worked in the Orange City School System as well. Julie also teaches sixth grade on Sunday mornings at Suburban Temple Kol-Ami. She enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with her family.

 
 
 
 
Allison Proper
Gan Garin 2 Year Old Teacher

Allison Proper has been teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day school in the Gan Garin class since 2015. She can also be found subbing throughout the building. Previously, Allison taught art enrichment for Mandel JDS’s Pre-K and art in a public school in Philadelphia. Allison also taught Sunday school to second graders.  Allison graduated from The University of Michigan with a Bachelors in Fine Arts, and received her Master’s degree in teaching from The Maryland Institute, College of Art. In her free time she enjoys riding her bike, hiking, and spending time with her family.  

 
 
 
 
Diane Wachsman
Gan Shoresh 3 Year Old Teacher

Diane Wachsman has been working at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School since 2005.  Before coming to Mandel JDS, she was an Independent Child Care Provider for 18 years, running her own home daycare business. Prior to her daycare business, Diane was a licenced beautician with children being her favorite customers. Diane lives with her husband Dave in South Euclid and together they have a daughter, Anna. In her free time, Diane enjoys camping, hiking and spending time with family and friends.

 
 
 
 
 
 
Ashley Walker
Gan Garin 2 Year Old Teacher

This is Ashley’s first year teaching at the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School.  Previously, Ashley taught Special Education in both elementary and high school programs in Las Vegas.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Miami University and a Masters degree in Special Education from the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.  Ashley has a daughter in second grade, a son in Gan Alonim, and a son in Gan Garin at Mandel JDS. She lives in Solon with her husband and children, and enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with her family in her spare time.